Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3: Can the Chinese firm’s top-specced phone hold its own against Google’s latest flagship?
The big G has crammed a load of top-end hardware into this one, taking on the big boys with a serious handset.
But OnePlus has already debuted its flagship with some similarly impressive hardware at a much lower price.
So, is it worth spending the extra on Google’s own smartphone? Or will you get just as good an experience with OnePlus’ alternative? Read on to find out.
Related: Pixel vs Pixel XL
WATCH: Google Pixel hands-on
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Design
Google (with a little help from manufacturer HTC) has gone for metal and glass design this time around, with a two tone finish on the back, no camera bump, chamfered edges, and a generally pretty standard-looking phone.
The Pixel comes in two sizes, a 5-inch version and a 5.5-inch version, and features a fingerprint scanner on the back, just above an antenna line which wraps around bottom of the backplate. Overall, it looks a lot like the HTC One A9.
Related: Pixel vs iPhone 7
As does the OnePlus, with its dual antenna lines on the top and bottom of the backplate. Around the front, things are a little different, however. The elliptical home button makes for a more conspicuous navigation tool than on the Pixel, which eschews the home button in favour of navigation buttons built into the software. OnePlus’ home button does double as a pretty fast fingerprint scanner though.
In terms of size, the OnePlus comes in at 5.5 inches, matching the Pixel XL, and weighs 158g – 15g more than the 5-inch Pixel and 10g less than the Pixel XL.
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Display
Of course, with two different size phones, you’re going to get two different size screens. But if your were expecting the same resolution on both Pixels, think again. The smaller version packs a Full HD screen, while the XL comes with a Quad HD offering. And while the difference won’t be all that noticeable, when using the phones for VR (these are the first handsets that will work with Google’s new Daydream VR platform) the higher resolution will be noticeable.
Related: Galaxy S7 vs Pixel
So, has OnePlus managed to match the Pixel XL? Put simply, no. The Chinese handset comes with the same 1,080 x 1,920 resolution as the smaller Pixel. It’s also not going to work with Daydream VR. It’s still a great screen, however, as is the 5-inch Pixel’s. Both companies have used AMOLED tech in the displays – meaning you’ll get deeper blacks and much better energy efficiency than you would with an LCD panel.
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Hardware
OnePlus prides itself on providing top-end hardware at a reasonable price, and the third of the company’s flagships certainly delivers in that department. Under the hood of the OnePlus 3 lies a Snapdragon 820, the same chip powering the HTC 10 and many Galaxy S7 models, and a whopping 6GB of RAM. It makes for speedy performance, even if the phone does get a tad warm under pressure.
Google, for its part, has gone a step further and stuck a new Snapdragon 821 processor in its Pixel phone. The new Qualcomm chip reportedly comes with a 10% boost in performance speed over the 820 – a claim we’re yet to test out. When it comes to RAM, however, there’s 2GB less than on the OnePlus.
Related: Pixel XL vs Galaxy Note 7
Still, we’re expecting Google’s devices to be some of the best performing phones you’re able to buy when they eventually launch. Until we’re able to get a full review done, then, we’ll have to wait to pass judgement.
In terms of storage, OnePlus gives you a decent helping of 64GB while Google offers either 32GB or 128GB on its Pixel phones. Unfortunately, neither handset comes with expanadable storage, so you won’t be able to whack a MicroSD card in your phone whether you go with OnePlus or Google.
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Software
Both these handsets run on Android, but there are some notable differences. The most obvious of these is that the OnePlus 3 is still on Android Marshmallow, while the new Pixels come with the latest Android Nougat already installed.
That means Google’s handsets can take advantage of new features such as a split-screen mode and better power efficiency. However, it won’t be long until OnePlus 3 owners get an upgrade, so the playing field will be somewhat levelled very soon. We say somewhat as the OnePlus still won’t be ‘Daydream-ready’ even after the upgrade, so Google will still have a slight edge.
Related: Pixel vs Nexus 6P
The good news is OnePlus 3 owners shouldn’t have too long to wait for Nougat to land on their handsets. While there’s no official date set just yet, the company revealed a launch would be happening soon in a recent Reddit AMA.
Other software differences between the OnePlus 3 and Pixel include the skin which sits on top of the Android OS. Google is adding its new Pixel launcher to the stock version of Android, which doesn’t change the overall look too much, adding new circular app icons and dispensing with the app drawer.
OnePlus, however, uses its own OxygenOS skin, which makes a few more design changes. There’s a built-in Dark mode, alongside a load of new customisation options that let you do things such as tweak the software soft keys. But overall the skin is one of the least intrusive available, which means the overall user experience isn’t spoiled.
It remains to be seen how well OxygenOS works with Nougat, however.
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Camera
Google made a lot of the camera it’s provided with the Pixel phone. Both the 5-inch and 5.5-inch model come with a 12.3-megapixel offering that features a decent f/2.0 aperture with a 1.55µm pixel size. And while we’re yet to test out the camera, it sounds like a suitably top-end setup that should ensure good shots. Whether it’ll be able to outdo the Galaxy S7’s stellar camera remains to be seen, but on paper it certainly doesn’t look like it.
And it’s the same story for the OnePlus 3. Although the 16-megapixel camera sounds better than the 12-megapixels offered on the Pixel and the Galaxy S7, we found in our tests that the shooter, although excellent, wasn’t quite up there with Sammy’s offering. Still, it’s a great camera that produces photos with natural colours and superb contrast.
Both the Pixel and OnePlus 3 are also capable of shooting 4K video, and both come with an 8-megapixel front-facing camera – so your perfectly posed selfies should look magnificent.
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Battery
We found battery life on the OnePlus 3 to be a bit hit and miss. In tests the phone managed to last 17hrs 25mins playing a 720p MP4 movie on loop, which is very impressive. But in our experience some software will accelerate the loss of charge, and we often found the non-removable Li-Ion 3,000 mAhbattery would drain within a day.
When it comes to the Pixel phone, we’re yet to test the phone out, so don’t have any real-world experience to go on. We’d expect the 2,770mAh cell in the Pixel phone, and 3,450 cell in the Pixel XL to do a decent job though, especially considering the energy advantages that come with an AMOLED screen and Android Nougat. We’ll have more once we’ve tested the phones out.
Both the OnePlus and Pixel phone use a USB Type-C port to charge, which adds an element of future-proofing to the handsets.
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Price and release
This is where OnePlus shines. The firm is offering all that high-end tech for just £349.99. While that’s more than previous OnePlus flagships, it’s still a hell of a lot cheaper than you’d pay for the same hardware in a phone from the big players such as Samsung or Apple.
The Pixel phones are available to pre-order now in the US and UK. The Pixel will be £599 (32GB) and £699 (128GB) with the Pixel XL coming in at £719 (32 GB) and £819 (128GB). The phone will actually release on October 20. That makes it much more expensive than the OnePlus, making this section an easy one to call in favour of the Chinese firm.
Google Pixel vs OnePlus 3 – Summary
Want an afforable phone that’s as good at the Pixel (at least on paper)? Go with the OnePlus. If you want to get onboard with Google’s serious smartphone push, and take advantage of all the Google Assistant stuff – go with the Pixel.
Buy Now: Google Pixel at Amazon.com from $839
It’s difficult to call an overall winner at this early stage. The price of the OnePlus is might tempting, however, and while we’re impressed with the Pixel phones, we’re not yet sure if they’re worth the extra cash. We’ll have more once we’ve reviewed them, so stay tuned.
Buy Now: OnePlus 3 at Amazon.com from $494
WATCH: Head to head – Is the Google Pixel Phone Overpriced?
Let us know which one you prefer in the comments.